Long-term optical brain imaging in live adult fruit flies

Cheng Huang, Jessica R. Maxey, Supriyo Sinha, Joan Savall, Yiyang Gong, and Mark J. Schnitzer.

Nature Communications volume 9, Article number: 872 (2018).

[Publisher version][pdf]

Time-lapse in vivo microscopy studies of cellular morphology and physiology are crucial toward understanding brain function but have been infeasible in the fruit fly, a key model species. Here we use laser microsurgery to create a chronic fly preparation for repeated imaging of neural architecture and dynamics for up to 50 days. In fly mushroom body neurons, we track axonal boutons for 10 days and record odor-evoked calcium transients over 7 weeks. Further, by using voltage imaging to resolve individual action potentials, we monitor spiking plasticity in dopamine neurons of flies undergoing mechanical stress. After 24 h of stress, PPL1-α’3 but not PPL1-α’2α2 dopamine neurons have elevated spike rates. Overall, our chronic preparation is compatible with a broad range of optical techniques and enables longitudinal studies of many biological questions that could not be addressed before in live flies.